"I Had Been Right The Entire Time": People Who Alerted Authority Figures Of Danger Only To Be Dismissed Are Revealing What Happened In The End, And It's So Frustrating

    "I forwarded the news story to my boss with the subject line: 'I told you so.'"

    Note: This post contains mentions of sexual harassment, sexual assault, child abuse, and suicide.

    After watching Dahmer and The Watcher, it's hard not to think about all the cases we have (and haven't) heard of concerned citizens who tried to warn an authority figure of danger yet weren't taken seriously, and turned out to be right in the end. I asked the BuzzFeed Community for their own stories of when their concerns were shot down by people in power — here are the experiences that I can't stop thinking about:

    1. "Ask almost any non-supporter of Kanakuk Kamp, a Christian youth camp in Branson, Missouri. My husband and I owned a popular pizza restaurant that Pete Newman, an upper-level Kamp leader, would frequent. He would bring boys from his 'small group' for one-on-one ministering — we now know what he was doing is called 'grooming.' He would always sit on the same side of the booth as the kid. I told my husband that was so odd. Why would he need to be on the same side of the booth as a middle schooler? I didn't like it, and I mentioned it to other Kamp leaders, but nothing ever came of it. Very few people believed me. A few years later, I was unfortunately proven correct: He was grooming the boys. Vice journalists won an Emmy for their reporting on the Christian summer camp's history of abuse."

    kanakuk kamp camp exterior (inset) court documents from kanakuk kamps case

    2. "I had a part-time admin job while I was studying at university. One of my colleagues, who wasn't quite a senior manager though he was much more senior to me, constantly sexually harassed me. I was only 19, and he was in his mid-30s. He tried to kiss me after an office party. After that, he got my phone number from the system and sent me explicit texts about what he wanted to do to me. I finally reported him to my work, and one of the senior partners took me to an office to tell me that sometimes, colleagues had sex; even if it was awkward after, that didn't mean it was sexual harassment. He told me I needed to be conscious of how I dressed. I realized that the man told the senior partner we slept together. Years later, a friend of mine who still worked there called me. He did it again, but this time to the managing partner’s niece who was there on work experience. Because of who she was, they took it seriously and fired him."

    "It still hurts that they ignored my concerns and victim-blamed me, only listening to it when a family member complained."

    —Anonymous, 35, London

    3. "This past week a family member ended up in the hospital after passing out. The staff ended up doing two spinal taps to rule out meningitis. A couple days later, she was still in the hospital and felt worse. She had a severe headache and neck pain. I immediately thought of the spinal taps — I suggested that she could be leaking spinal fluid, and the nurse said that wouldn't be the cause of the pain and more would be going on if it was. The next day, I mentioned the spinal fluid again because she was still in so much pain, and it was dismissed again. She was discharged that day. Two days later, she was back in the ER of a different hospital and underwent an assessment. I had been right the entire time. That ER put her on medication and scheduled her for a blood patch. I felt so bad that I didn't push harder for what I knew was right."


    4. "I grew up going to church every week and spending a lot of time there because the pastor was my grandfather. My mom was a very religious Christian, and always put the men of the church in high regard. I was only in middle school when I began to notice one of the men at the church always trying to corner me when I was alone. When I would work the nursery, he’d wait outside until the last kid was gone to come in and try to talk to me. I tried to avoid him, and he’d still follow from a distance and then try to talk to me when no one else was around. One day, I let my guard down, and out of nowhere, I felt that man's hands on my shoulders. He had a tight grip and said he liked the outfit I was wearing. I immediately told my mom that night about how uncomfortable he made me. She was so mad that I would twist such a 'friendly gesture' into something inappropriate and told me I should pray."

    holy bible in the back of a church pew

    5. "I work in an academic field and once had a person in training working under me. He would go missing for hours at a time and never seemed that clued into what we were doing, so the rest of our team often had to pick up his slack. And when he was around, his demeanor and behavior were just odd. I just had a bad feeling about him. When my boss asked my opinion of him, I told my boss he should be removed from the training program. I was told I was overreacting and that I 'shouldn’t be so quick to ruin this young man’s academic career.' So, he was allowed to stay. At the end of the month, he rotated to a different department as originally planned. One year later, I received an alert of a breaking news story involving the trainee — he was arrested after his coworker found a USB drive in his work computer that contained a ton of lewd images of children. They found even more at his home. I forwarded the news story to my boss with the subject line: 'I told you so.'"


    6. "When I was 6 years old, I started having horrible bouts of diarrhea, feeling sick, violent shakes, and difficulty catching my breath. I felt like I was dying every time I had one of those episodes. My body was screaming that something was horribly wrong. We managed to figure out a few food triggers, but some episodes were unexplainable. Doctors did some standard blood tests then told me I was fine, and that it was probably anxiety or IBS. I was told multiple times that it was absolutely not allergic reactions — they said those symptoms were unpleasant, but harmless. I begged doctors to do something, but it was like they didn't want to believe that a young little girl who looked fine could be ill. Finally, when I was 27 years old, I was hospitalized one week with those same reactions. They were finally confirmed to be massive anaphylactic allergic reactions."

    "I have multiple severe allergies and an immune disorder, which means I am at extremely high risk for death by anaphylaxis. I have had thousands of these reactions over my lifetime, and every single one of them could have killed me. My body kept telling me that I was dying because I was. 

    If your body is telling you similar, refuse to stop seeking help until someone can help you make it stop. It could save your life."


    7. "A member of my family was wrongfully convicted of the 1985 murder of his wife. The only physical evidence was a so-called 'bite mark' that a dentist identified during his testimony. However, that dentist has since recanted that opinion and denied the injury was a bite mark at all. Two additional forensic dentists also provided sworn testimony that the injury was not a bite mark. Still, the county denied my family member a new trial. Almost 40 years later, he is still in jail. He deserves to be free, and his wife deserves justice — her murderer walked free. My family wants justice for them both."


    8. "I am an Indigenous woman in Canada. In 2007, I was at a small party. This one guy was flirting with and bothering me all night. I went to take a phone call in an empty bedroom. He followed me in, cornered me, grabbed my face, and forcefully kissed me. I pushed him off. He pushed me back, and then he violently slammed me. I screamed and ran into the bathroom. The entire party got spooked and ran out of the apartment. He took my phone, so I had to go and knock on a neighbor's door to call 911. When the cops and ambulance showed up, I was treated like crap. They pulled cash out of my purse and asked, 'How did you get this money? Were you turning a trick? Did your 'John' do this to you?' I was so humiliated by the officers, and they were women, too. They wouldn't listen to me about the guy and said I'd be fine, so I went home. The next day, I was in so much pain that I went to the ER. I had a broken nose, and a concussion."


    9. "I had a bad feeling about my partner’s cousin’s wedding. I’d been to the venue before — it was a family-owned bed and breakfast complex. The family who owned it gave me some really weird, unsettling, cult-like vibes. I didn’t feel safe around them, especially since it was in the middle of nowhere with limited cell service, so I refused to attend the wedding. There were weeks of contention and uproar between my partner’s family and me because I refused to go. In the end, I stayed home. They went, and discovered that the venue owners were doomsday conspiracists with a fully equipped arsenal and an underground bunker-and-tunnel system underneath the cottages on the complex. My gut was more right than I ever could’ve known."

    someone runs away in an underground tunnel in "the watcher"

    10. "There was an art teacher in my school who used to draw along with us in his class. We figured he was drawing what he saw out the window as we were. But I told the headmistress and the head of the art department that the looks he gave me and my classmates during those drawing periods were not right. He'd look at you like he was planning something. Years later, a different art teacher found one of his sketchbooks hidden between his two desks after he'd gone to a different school. He'd been drawing students from several classes of all age groups. And these drawings were not appropriate. My sister, who was a few years ahead of me, said all her female classmates had the same feeling about him. They also spoke to the headmaster, and nothing was ever done."

    —Anonymous, 29, Scotland

    11. "When our new neighbors moved in next door, my boyfriend and I went over to say hello. An older couple with a small dog answered the door. The wife seemed very quiet, though nice. However, I immediately got a bad vibe from the husband. He seemed outwardly friendly, but I just felt something was off. At that moment, something inside me screamed at me to get away from him. I’d never experienced a feeling that intense about a stranger before, or ever since. We exchanged introductions and small pleasantries, and then I quickly made an excuse for us to go. I explained my feelings to my boyfriend and another neighbor. They both wrote me off. So, I just avoided the couple, especially the husband, at all costs. Six months later, there were cops all over the house. The husband had murdered the wife. It was a very open-and-shut case that he had done it. My boyfriend even said, 'You were right about him.'"

    neighbors overlook a crime scene in "the watcher"

    12. "My high school made national news in 1997 because of hazing. I was a part of it, and constantly getting beat up in the locker room. My parents and I tried to warn the school and push them to take action, but they refused to do anything or have an adult in the locker room because they didn't want someone to accuse a teacher of watching the students undress. The following year, a freshman baseball player was hazed after a game with a broomstick by the upperclassmen. It happened in the locker room, and the coach wasn't there to stop it. The administration tried to prevent the student newspaper from addressing the incident, but it was fortunately too late, and media outlets caught wind of the assault. After that, gym teachers were required to monitor the locker rooms when students were present. All they had to do was listen to me, but they refused, and it cost them $675,000 in settlement money. At least the school's hazing culture came to light."

    "No kid in my family will ever attend any school in that district."

    —Anonymous, 41, California

    13. "My best friend in high school was constantly getting bullied by others during our junior year of high school. She'd just transferred back from another school district, and our peers were cruel to her. I went to the principals and counselor to voice my concerns for my friend multiple times, but they always brushed it off their shoulders like it wasn’t a big deal. We’d frequently talk about what it'd be like to be seniors together. Then one day, she didn’t show up to school. I just thought she must be sick. I wish that were the case. The entire school got called into the auditorium for an announcement. They announced my friend died by suicide. My world shattered into a million pieces. The school finally started to 'care' about bullying, but it was too late. I lost my best friend forever. I screamed at the principals and counselors. They never did anything. It cost my best friend's life for the school to do something."

    "I’m now 20 years old, and I still feel the same pain and anger I felt the day of the announcement."

    —Anonymous, 20, Pennsylvania

    14. "My second-grade daughter came home from school upset because she was getting into trouble every day on the way to the lunchroom for talking in line. The first two days, she swore she wasn't talking; I just assumed the teacher looked back and thought it was her. On the third day, she was in tears. The teacher made her and three other girls eat lunch with him in the classroom. On the fourth day it happened again; it was only my daughter and one other girl. My daughter and her classmates all said he hadn't touched them or said anything 'bad,' but I couldn't shake this bad feeling. My husband and I visited the principal. I asked for my daughter to be moved to a different classroom. The principal went on and on about how wonderful the teacher was and that there had been no reports by any other parents, but I just knew something was wrong with the situation. The principal denied my request. I felt like I was going to vomit."

    exterior of an indoor door with a window and blinds

    15. "I used to work at a research hospital up on a hill. Every day, I'd carpool to the downtown area and hike up to my lab using various trails that included a long stretch of sidewalk, which followed a less trafficked road that wound around the hospital. One day, I was walking up the hill when a black car came flying around the blind curve, came to a screeching halt, and did an illegal U-turn into a scenic pull-off area that I was walking up to. A large white man dressed in all black jumped out of the car. He was jittery and off. I tried to appear normal and calm as I walked by him. He began to tell me that he had been driving around the city all morning taking pictures for a friend in another state. He asked if I could snap a picture of him, so I obliged. As I was taking this odd disposable underwater camera from him, I saw only two of the pictures had been used, despite his story about taking pictures all morning. All the hairs on the back of my neck stood up."

    niecy nash-betts looks uncomfortable in "dahmer"

    What's your own story of a time when you knew something was wrong but an authority figure didn't believe you, and you were right in the end? Share your true story in the comments or through this anonymous Google form.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386.
    If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here.

    If you are concerned that a child is experiencing or may be in danger of abuse, you can call or text the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-2253 (4.A.CHILD); service can be provided in over 140 languages.